Let’s Talk About It: “Privilege and Prejudice in 2012″

The other day I attended a diversity workshop that focused on the racial attitudes of children. Part of the workshop included a clip of Anderson Cooper’s piece, “Kids On Race” and if you have seen this you know it’s telling to say the least.  I think what was most interesting was that racial attitudes of parents and children were neutral until puberty.  During the adoloscent and dating years, you see a shift in the perception of the opposite race; though white children exhibited racial biases earlier than their black peers.  The reality is children develop the racial perception and attitudes of the adults in their lives as well as from their own personal experiences.  And it was amazing, yet saddening to see children’s friendships diminshed or unnurtured because of the prejudices imposed by the adults in their life.  The Trayvon Martin case has sparked a lot of discussion around race in America, especially with children. 

It’s no secret that we all get a “race talk” from a beloved adult at some point and while their intentions may be good, the results can be damaging to the image of a group of people.  Recently, I received a link that was titled “The Talk: Non Black Version” and as I rolled my eyes as I clicked on it, my mal feelings were affirmed.  Author John Derbyshire lists a number of pointers for his 16 and 19 year old sons aka future Zimmermans to follow. Read at your own will, but one piece of advice that was interesting was point #13, lol: “In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.” And the problem with the ”non-black” talk, as also exhibited by the earlier negative racial attitudes of white children is the privilege it embodies.  Really though Johnny, good luck to your sons seeking friends in black people to prove their NOT racist. I mean would you also advise your kids to seek friendships with idiots so they don’t seem elitist or is that only when it comes to people of other races?!

Moral of the Story: Everybody is a little bit racist, as they say in the play Avenue Q, lol (inside joke) or has some prejudice based on stereotypes to be PC.  And like an attendee mentioned at the workshop, “we can’t eradicate history”.  So is there any hope for our children?! I think the hope lies in the acknowledgement of history and honest conversations about the negative feelings that stem from the past.  I mean no where in his convo to his kids did Derbyshire mention the enslavement of ALL blacks, the only generalization he could make about black people in the US, lol.  Like I said before, America was shitty and will only get better for our kids when we as members of the human race do (that includes white people, lol!) xx

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